CDC committee recommends HibMenCY for infants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices voted on October 24 to recommend a meningococcal vaccination for infants at increased risk of contracting the disease.

The committee recommended that infants with anatomic or functional asplenia, including sickle cell disease, or with recognized persistent complement pathway deficiencies receive the HibMenCY meningococcal vaccine. The recommended vaccination practice includes four doses of the vaccine at two, four, six and 12 through 15 months.

The vaccine can be used in infants ages two through 18 months who live in communities with serogroup Y and C meningococcal disease outbreaks.

"The ACIP meningococcal vaccine working group concluded that the recently licensed HibMenCY infant vaccine should be routinely given to those infants at high risk for meningococcal disease due to certain immunocompromising conditions," Alison Patti, a representative with the CDC, said. "Now that this vaccine is available, it made clinical and public health sense to routinely administer it to high risk infants. Before HibMenCY, no infant meningococcal vaccine was available."

ACIP's recommendations were forwarded to the CDC's director for approval. If approved, the recommendations will represent the official CDC recommendations for U.S. immunizations. Until that time, the recommendations are considered provisional.

Meningococcal disease is a vaccine-preventable and serious bacterial infection caused by Neisseria meningitis bacteria. The two most common illnesses caused by the bacteria include bloodstream infections and meningitis. Infants with medical conditions like a complement component deficiency or sickle cell disease are at increased meningococcal disease risk.

"It's estimated that 5,000 kids per year will get HibMenCY vaccine through this high risk recommendation," Patti said. "Most of these children are at lifelong risk for meningococcal disease, so they can now be protected younger than ever before."